By: Stephanie Geraghty
January 1, 2021
Happy New Year, Stroller Warriors! Many of you may not remember me at this point. So allow me introduce myself. My name is Steph and I get the super cool title of Stroller Warriors founder and retired CEO. I officially retired almost 3 full years ago but still dabble in a couple behind-the-scenes things and LOVE to see what the Warriors are up to. I have to say, I am so amazed and proud that the club still stands and is quite frankly, flourishing. Well done, team. I am overjoyed and so grateful that you’ve carried on the torch. It means a lot.
To many of you, it might seem like the club has been around forever, but believe it or not, we’ve only been in existence for 10 short years. In some ways, those ten years flew by in a second because I still remember the early days vividly. One decade ago, I had an idea that maybe a military spouse running club would be fun. Maybe I could make some friends. Maybe my kids could make some friends. And maybe, just maybe, I could survive my first deployment as a mother.
There were only 3 of us on that chilly Tuesday morning in North Carolina. It was January 19th, 2010, to be exact, and why I thought it was a good idea to launch a club in a cold winter month just goes to show how excited I was about the idea! That morning, we plodded down the path with our kids bundled under blankets in the strollers. The three of us congregated at our cars afterwards, excitedly talking about how fun this was and how we will do it again. So I hosted another workout that very next Tuesday. A couple more people showed up. And the week after that…and the week after that! It was working! I didn’t take any photographs the first couple months because I didn’t even really grasp what was happening and what this would be. But the images are clear in my head. Every time I saw another vehicle pull into the parking lot, the strollers heaved out of trunks, and little ones running around the playground, my heart was full. I WAS having fun. I WAS making friends. And I wasn’t just surviving the deployment. I. Was. Thriving.
1. Home. This is number one on my list because home means peace, comfort, and support. We moved to Camp Lejeune in 2009 when our boys were 2 months and 2 ½ years old. That home in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was 1,325 miles from my childhood hometown in Avoca, Iowa. I had never lived that far from my parents. Additionally, it was intimidating to bid farewell to my husband for 6 months and wonder, who can I rely on? Stroller Warriors gave me the village I needed, a home away from home. They supported me and loved me as one of their own family. I won’t deny that in retirement, I’ve had many moments of yearning for my village. It’s slowly developing but not nearly as fast as what a Stroller Warriors chapter achieves. My hat is off to the best village I’ve ever known. There’s nothing else quite like it.
2. Fun! Laughter keeps us young. Laughter makes life lighter and simpler. There was not a Stroller Warriors workout that did not feed my soul through conversation and laughter. Whether we were laughing about our kids antics or our own antics, dressing up in ridiculous costumes, or making horses pop out of bushes (I’m looking at you, Lou), we always enjoyed our time together. A smile is good for the soul. I was a bit of a sarcastic smart a$$ on our leadership planning pages and for good reason. One, I was the founder and CEO and nobody could fire me. Win, ha! Two, it made me laugh to see their witty responses, which were equally hilarious. I laughed, a lot. Gifs and memes were a stellar add to Facebook and the Warriors used them like seasoned experts. Thanks for all the late nights and good times. You brought me happiness.
4. Inspiration. I watched my fellow Warriors show up even on hard days. I watched them go through tough things but still log those miles, set those goals, run those races, and then set more goals. I never would have even considered running a full marathon or trying a triathlon if it wasn’t for the club. They inspired me to believe in myself because THEY believed in themselves. I followed their example and bowed to the best kind of peer pressure, Stroller Warriors pressure! I still reflect on many of my friends’ achievements and think to myself, “Wow, I want to be awesome like them.” Thank you for the push, Warriors. All of these years later, I’m still watching and being in awe.
9. Food. Okay, this isn’t the most deep heartfelt list item but I love food and Stroller Warriors love food and geez, we ate a lot of delicious food! Most workouts featured some sort of random treat, or we just made up reasons to bring treats. I don’t think it’s an accident that the long runs on Camp Lejeune commenced and concluded at Dunkin Donuts either! Breaking bread together is another way to feel at home and I always appreciated that. So did my stomach. I remember the most exciting treat I ever shared…gender reveal cupcakes for my daughter. What a special moment and it was so fitting to share it with Stroller Warriors. They were so genuinely happy for me and shared the journey with me and I will never forget that.
Happy 10-Year-Runniversary Stroller Warriors. In short, you will always have my heart. I’m very proud I got to be a part of this in the first 10 years.
(I must apologize that this got so long. Thanks for hanging in there. Those of you that know me are not surprised by my verbose blog. Some things truly do never change. 😉 )
Happy Running from your retired founder and CEO and biggest fan,